Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE INTERVIEW

Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai: 'I asked Macron to invest $300m in girls' education'

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Catalan referendum debacle

Read more

THE DEBATE

Confiscated vote? Escalation over banned Catalonia referendum

Read more

PEOPLE & PROFIT

Brexit and the city: Paris, Frankfurt, Dublin vying for new business

Read more

FRENCH CONNECTIONS

Is the French Senate a retirement club for old politicians?

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Burma should give access to investigators, says UN rights chief

Read more

FOCUS

Rohingya crisis: Monks with an ultranationalist agenda

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Mexico hit by another deadly earthquake

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

US Federal Reserve ends historic QE program

Read more

REPORTERS

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2011-10-14

The “Atacama 33”, one year on

Their story gripped the world. Trapped at the bottom of a mine for 69 days, the “Atacama 33” went though a living hell. Their incredible rescue was watched live by over a billion people on television. One year on, now the media frenzy has subsided, what has happened to them? Is the nightmare really over? What are their lives like today?

To reach the San José mine, we must first travel 850 km from Santiago of Chile, along a road in a lunar landscape. Both anxious and excited, Claudio guides us in through the dunes of the Atacama. It is the first time he has made this journey since it came out of the mine a year ago. A truck moving, a rickety fence, some old oil cans are scattered about, as if the occupants have suddenly fled. Sylvain, our sound engineer records crackling and the timid song of a lone bird. In an atmosphere reminiscent of a Serio Leone film, Claudio has flashbacks of the two thousand journalists, the families, the officials, he hears the flashes and applause, he is lost for words. It is a year since the 33 emerged from 700 meters underground, after 69 days, under the world’s media spotlight. But now it's the come down, unemployment and tranquilizers. At the miners hometown of Copiapo, a city of 130 000 inhabitants, the tragedy is not spoken about. Too many headlines, too much jealousy, too much publicity around these men from the village, some of whem are suspected of orchestrating their communication to the point of asking for 3000 dollars for a one-hour appearance on television. This weekend of September, the city celebrates the independence of Chile. Everyone attends the gala, the "fonda" as it is known here. The women run a stand, the stand of 33, it is the most empty as the party gets into full swing. Johnny, one of the survivors of the San José drama led a double life: his wife and his mistress both came to support him. He refuses to speak to the camera. Susanna, his mistress, is here preparing the skewers. She accuses the state and the mining company of letting the men down. Dario, another of the miners is depressed. Amongst the vacant stares, two musicians play throughout the night. Our crew member, Tito, tries to explain to families that we are not here to judge but to listen. But it is not easy to convince them. Even Pamela, a journalist with the local newspaper just about manages to convince them. We head a little way from the city and probably the most shocking moment of the trip. Jimmy is 20 and since his release from the mine, he stutters. Unemployed and too young to receive any compensation, he lives as a recluse in his neighborhood. Sometimes he is angry. "I want to scream out loud!" he says. But under his eyes dark, there is a glimmer of hope. It is his cherished dream to happily simply chase after the kites, on the outskirts of Copiapo.

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2017-09-15 Middle East

Video: How the Haredim, Israel’s ultra-Orthodox, make their own rules

In Israel, the Haredim community (or "Those in awe of God") lives separately from the rest of Israeli society. Dressed all in black, these ultra-Orthodox practise a strict form...

Read more

2017-09-07 DR Congo

In DR Congo, karate helps rape victims rebuild their lives

For the past three years, Frenchwoman Laurence Fischer, a three-time world karate champion, has travelled to the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo to help female victims of...

Read more

2017-09-01 Japan

Video: Returning home to Fukushima

On March 11, 2011, a powerful earthquake and tsunami in northeast Japan triggered the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, in 1986. Just like in the Soviet Union,...

Read more

2017-08-23 Africa

Video: The fight for survival in drought-hit Somaliland

Since the beginning of this year, Somaliland, an autonomous territory in the Horn of Africa, has been ravaged by severe drought. As eighty percent of the region’s livestock has...

Read more

2017-07-28 Middle East

Video: The plight of Cairo's street children

In Egypt, tens of thousands of children wander the streets of the capital, Cairo. They survive as best they can amid desperate poverty and violence. Some NGOs, such as France's...

Read more